Yoga is more than just a workout. It’s a practice that combines physical, mental and spiritual elements and most importantly, it takes part within a global community. Whether you’re a seasoned Ashtangi or you’ve just discovered the calming influences of yin, there’s a group of likeminded yogis out there for every yoga-lover to connect with.
That’s why, as a yoga instructor or studio owner, it’s important you have an awareness of your own community and make efforts to develop your place within it. In the modern age, and with increasing effect thanks to the recent global pandemic forcing everyone indoors, many yoga communities now take place online.
A quick Google or Instagram search in your particular discipline will introduce you to a whole host of characters and insights from your unique yogic community.
As a yoga professional, it’s up to you to create your own community of yoga students, placing you and your business as the central glue holding that community together.
The benefits of building a yoga community
You might be wondering, why should I build a yoga community? What are the benefits? When you have a business to run and a million tasks to juggle, spending time on creating, cultivating and then keeping up with a yogic community might seem like a bit of a stretch (pardon the pun).
But some of the biggest benefits of building a yoga community is that it will make you an invaluable resource for students, build awareness of you and your brand and position you as an authority within this competitive market. Ultimately, this will drive revenue, draw new students to your studio and help you retain and engage the students you already have.
If you’re not sure whether to spend time on building your yoga community, or whether it will truly benefit you and your business, ask yourself:
- Do I spend enough time engaging with my students outside of class?
- Are my members staying with my business long-term?
- Am I doing enough to drive new revenue streams?
If the answer to any of the above is ‘no’, then read on. We’re about to unpack the simplest ways you can forge your own online community of yoga aficionados.
How to build a yoga community
Your community will bring together students so that you can share ideas, philosophies, yoga styles, teaching and tips. When you’re building your community, stick to the following rules.
Rule #1 Show you care
In order to build a believable and authentic online yoga community, you have to show that you care about your fellow yogis. To do this, ensure that your community-approach has continuity . Check in with community members daily via tips, messages and reminders.
This also means truly engaging with the community you’ve made. If you organise an event, show up, be the first one there, talk to students. You can cultivate this online by encouraging community members to ask you questions and offer practical advice and guidance.
Pro tip: by using an app like VirtuaYoga, you can encourage your yoga studio members to sign up to a community, and always keep your yoga studio in their pocket. Through the app you can share the latest news on your studio, reach out to you, book classes in a few click and plan activities and organize their week.
Rule #2 Social media is your friend
We’re sure you and your business are already using social media. But make sure that you are effectively using your social channels to promote your community and engage with it.
Carry out challenges, post motivating graphics and most importantly, encourage community members to actively interact with you. You can do this by hosting competitions, live discussions on Instagram or Facebook on your favourite yogic topic (perhaps a mini-lecture on the philosophy of yoga).
Make sure that your presence on social media reflects the community you are hoping to build. Consider your community when you write out each caption and create each image.
Rule #3 Motivate their love of yoga
The more your community loves the practice of yoga and keeps coming back to it, the more your business thrives. In order to motivate them, find ways to ensure that your members find the time in their day to practice.
That could be by creating your own challenges (Virtuagym runs challenges for you as part of its PRO+ package ) or by encouraging your members to share their progress. It could also mean making great resources such as eBooks and calendars for students to tick off the days they have practiced.
One idea is a monthly ‘Flexibility Friday’, a day on which your members each share pictures or stories of their struggles with finding space within poses and the challenges they have overcome.
Rule #4 Yoga doesn’t end outside the classroom
You could also encourage community members to pair online at-home sessions with sessions in your studio. Set “homework” for your community and get them to work on their headstand and show off how they got on in their next class.
One great way to encourage camaraderie amongst your students is to take them on day trips and practice yoga in beautiful locations. Beach sessions, or sessions in a field can bring a unique sense of ease and peace to a practice. And if it’s not possible, make sure you keep your livestream classes consistent .
If you have the capacity, consider setting up an annual retreat for your members.The more close they become as people, the more loyal they will be to you and your brand.
Follow the above community rules and you will grow a loyal community that loves you and your studio as much as they love the practice itself.